Review Roundup: THE MAIDS, Starring Anton Juan, Topper Fabregas
Manila, Philippines, August 13, 2013--Based on the 1947 original text by Louis Jouvet, "The Maids," by French playwright Jean Genet, revolves around two sadomasochistic housemaids Solange and Claire who imagine and improvise a thousand and one ways to murder Madame, the mistress of the house. Both housemaids take turns and dress up like their employer to insult the latter.
Inspired by real-life people and events, Genet based the characters of the housemaids on sisters Lea and Christine Papin, who brutally slain their employer's wife and daughter in Le Mans, France in 1933.
The play, starring Anton Juan as Solange--who also conceptualized and directed the production--and Topper Fabregas as Claire, runs until Sunday, August 18, at The Mirror Studio Theater, 5th floor SJG Center, Kalayaan Avenue corner Don Pedro St., Makati City (between Makati Avenue and Rockwell, a few buildings away from Grilla Kalayaan).
Now let us hear what the critics had to say:
Flor C. Caagusan, Pep.ph: "The spellbound audience gave the ensemble performance a standing ovation. Jay Glorioso conveyed the flamboyant Madame's ego tripping and false charity with humor. Topper Fabregas appeared larger than life, especially when Claire swept the stage in Madame's gowns.
And who can match Dr. Anton Juan's Solange in her abject fastidiousness and sadistic cruelty? Only the Director, of course."
Rome Jorge, Rappler.com: "As was originally intended by Genet, the female roles of the maids and the Madame are played mostly by men. This further adds depth to the role-playing dimension of the drama. (Curiously, this gender-bending casting has often not been followed in the play's many stagings in the western hemisphere.)...
That many Filipinos today work as overqualified domestic helpers abroad only makes this tragedy all the more relevant. The controversial murder cases of overseas Filipino domestic workers accused of murder such as Flor Contemplacion (1995) and Sarah Balabagan (1994) attest to this.
This play resonates with many Filipinos today who, even in the 21st century, still perpetuate a deeply feudal society where generations of the same family serve as maids of the same household.
On its premiere night last August 8, Glorioso played the role of Madame effortlessly, portraying her as a taciturn prima donna befuddled with age. Juan and Fabregas electrified the stage. This play's lines were lengthy, but the two said so much more without words.
The intimate setting of the Mirror Studio Theatre worked well for this intense drama. Staged without intermission and running for over an hour, 'The Maids' is an intense, gripping tour deforce ensemble performance from the entire cast."
Giselle Tongi-Walters, Rappler.com: "The set is rich and opulent, as provided by Jo-Liza's fine furniture.
The lighting is bright yet dramatic and by turns eerie, with the light from the imaginary window providing a perfect frame to those scenes by that window.
The costumes are lavish, thanks to fashion designer John Herrera and Mitoy Santa Ana. The blocking is seamless and utilizes the arena space.
The response of the audience is a mix of subdued chuckles along with gasps of delighted terror at this haute entertainment.
The highlight of this production are the two male leads in their female roles who give honest, subdued, and truthful performances."
Photo Credit: World Theater and Music Project, MusicArtes